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dc.contributor.authorNolan, Jane Elizabeth-
dc.description.abstractGovernment policy assumptions about employability characterise students as rational economic actors, motivated by maximising the return on their investment in higher education. Furthermore, policy documents emphasise the greater economic significance and potential returns from studying Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and more vocational disciplines. Beginning with a review of the literature and the political and historical developments which have led to the marketization of higher education, I trace the rise of employability as a high stakes issue. My thesis challenges government policy assumptions about employability with a specific focus on the non-vocational discipline of English Studies at Northern University. I explore the complexity and range of motivations which underlie individual choices of discipline, university and career and provide an account of employability from English through a longitudinal ethnographic study. I draw on my ethnographic fieldwork and semi-structured interviews conducted over five years to create case studies of the lives and early careers of students and graduates. In doing so I produce richly nuanced data about how employability is perceived, developed, embodied and articulated. I argue that employability is more than just getting a job, as government narratives imply; it is a complex, socially-embedded process of situated, lifelong learning. Using an analytical frame which draws on Bourdieu’s concepts, I explore the impact of social structures on choices and perceptions of employability. I offer participant narratives which evidence that career motivations are linked to identity and subjective considerations rather than simply maximising economic outcomes. Those narratives contextualiseskills within practice. My research confirms that English can lead to a wide range of careers. I place my findings in the context of changing workplace demands as the pace of technological change accelerates and conclude that the skills and capabilities which are developed by studying English are increasingly valuable for 21st century workplaces.-
dc.publisherNewcastle Universityen_US
dc.titleNarrating employability from English Studies : an ethnographic studyen_US
Appears in Collections:School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics

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